Could More Civil Society Involvement Increase Public Support for Climate Policy-Making? Evidence from a Survey Experiment in China

Global Environmental Change 40: 1–12

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 Last revised: 12 Dec 2017

See all articles by Thomas Bernauer

Thomas Bernauer

ETH Zurich

Robert Gampfer

ETH Zürich - Center for Comparative and International Studies

Tianguang Meng

Tsinghua University

Yu-Sung Su

Tsinghua University

Date Written: September 1, 2016

Abstract

Governments need the support of their citizens in order to be able to adopt and implement ambitious environmental protection policies. Recent research on liberal democratic systems has found evidence that increased civil society organization involvement can help increase the popular legitimacy of (that is, public support for) such policy-making. We are interested in whether this finding is also relevant to other types of political systems. To find out we implemented a survey experiment in China (N = 932). The empirical focus is on climate policy, a paradigmatic global governance effort, in which China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, plays a key role. The results show that people welcome the involvement of civil society actors – with the exception of business civil society organizations – in climate policy-making, though most participants in our survey experiment did not favor civil society organizations over government agencies. They also show, however, that moving from non-inclusion to inclusion of civil society organizations improves people’s assessment of transparency and representational quality of climate governance (two key facets of input or procedural legitimacy) by 14 and 24% respectively. Our findings suggest that – even though few civil society organizations are currently independent from government in China – increased civil society organizations involvement in climate policy-making could contribute to enhancing public support for climate policy. In view of great challenges China faces in implementing its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) within the Paris Agreement framework, its climate policy could thus benefit from greater involvement of civil society organizations.

Keywords: Civil society organization, Non-governmental organization, Climate change policy, Survey experiment, China

Suggested Citation

Bernauer, Thomas and Gampfer, Robert and Meng, Tianguang and Su, Yu-Sung, Could More Civil Society Involvement Increase Public Support for Climate Policy-Making? Evidence from a Survey Experiment in China (September 1, 2016). Global Environmental Change 40: 1–12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3078816

Thomas Bernauer (Contact Author)

ETH Zurich ( email )

Center for Comparative and International Studies
Building IFW, office 45.1, Haldeneggsteig 4
Zurich 8092, 8092
Switzerland
+41 44 632 6466 (Phone)
+41 44 632 1289 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ib.ethz.ch

Robert Gampfer

ETH Zürich - Center for Comparative and International Studies ( email )

Haldeneggsteig 4
Zürich, 8092
Switzerland

Tianguang Meng

Tsinghua University ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

Yu-Sung Su

Tsinghua University ( email )

153 MIngzhai, Qinghua Yuan
Haidian District
Beijing, Beijing 100084
China
+86 13810661799 (Phone)

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